The Night(s) the Roof Caved In

This week, we’ve been discussing how truth is stranger than fiction, and I’ve told you about the odd circumstances of moving into as well as out of the Craigslist House.  In keeping with that theme, for today’s Throwback Thursday, I’ll tell you about a few of the other places I’ve lived in my life and the one weird thing that keeps happening.

Once, when my daughter was very small, she and I got an apartment in Tampa.  It was in a nice neighborhood, and at the time, it was a fairly new apartment building.  The building was three stories high, and we lived on the second floor.

One day, I took my daughter to her babysitter’s house, and I went to work.  By the time I got home late that night, it had been a long day, and I was tired and just wanted to feed Stefani her dinner and get to bed.  I should stress here that when I got out of the car and went up the outside steps to my apartment, nothing seemed wrong.  There was no handyman in sight, and there was no note on my door.  I suspected nothing.  So when we went inside, we were completely alarmed to find that our bathroom was gone!  The entire ceiling from the unit above ours had apparently flooded and caved in, and had sat there all day causing my bathroom to then cave into the unit below!  To this day, I have no idea why no one had called the property manager before I did.  Stefani and I moved out that very night.


Fast forward a couple of years.  My son was born, and he and my daughter and I lived in a duplex.  The kids and I were out one evening, and when we came home, I smelled smoke.  I explored the house and saw flames shooting out from under my refrigerator!  I called the fire department, and they came right out and determined that something was bad in the wiring, so they unplugged the ‘fridge and wheeled it out to the front porch, saying it was unsafe.  While they were there, they said they needed to do a home inspection.  Everything checked out, except in the family room they found a few drops of water in a light bulb that was in the center of the ceiling.  They told me to have my landlord check it out right away and cautioned me not to use the light until the roof was checked for leaks.

My landlord at the time was quite intimidating (and she looked an awful lot like the bad witch in The Wizard of Oz).  And I was young, so I didn’t have the courage to speak up and complain very much.  I told her about the refrigerator and the watery light bulb, and she said she’d get around to it.  Then she did nothing for two weeks.  And in that time, I, being young and timid, called only once more to give her a “gentle reminder” that I was still waiting and that I needed a refrigerator for my baby’s formula.  During that time, it rained a lot, and the light bulb completely filled with water so I didn’t use the light in that room.  Finally, the landlord replaced the refrigerator and said she’d get someone back to look at the roof another day.

A few more days passed and we had more rain.  (It’s Florida, so torrential downpours are common, especially during the summer.)  I was out shopping one day with my kids and came home that evening after dark.  But when I walked to the kitchen to put away my groceries, I smelled something funny.  I turned on the light and found that the entire ceiling of the family room had fallen out and the smell was wet drywall!  Wet drywall covered every inch of floor, not to mention the furniture and electronics in that room.  Stefani, Jeremy, and I moved out that very night.


Fast forward several more years.  At the place where I currently live, there is a six inch hole in my ceiling that my landlord won’t fix.  The air conditioner was installed wrong and was not insulated (so, essentially I was air conditioning the attic!), and condensation was building up around the pipes and dripping through.  My ex-husband kindly repaired the air conditioner in exchange for food, but he couldn’t keep his temper in check long enough for me to get him to repair the ceiling.  Meanwhile, we discovered a small leak in the roof, and the landlord did come out to take care of that problem… by putting a garbage can in my attic to catch the water!  (Yes, really!)

The house is pretty nice (other than the gaping hole in the living room ceiling pictured above), so I really don’t want to have to move again anytime soon, and knowing what kinds of landlords are out there, this one actually isn’t as bad as what I’ve had.  (Better the devil you know, ya know?)  So, one day, I’m sure I’ll meet someone who will be willing to repair my ceiling in exchange for food or photography or something.  (I refuse to put money into fixing my landlord’s house on principle.)

But again I ask, if you read about a woman who lived in three separate homes in three separate cities where the roofs all caved in, would you find it plausible or would you think the author was stretching things?  (I sure would!)  What’s been the weirdest characteristic about anyplace you’ve ever lived?


53 thoughts on “The Night(s) the Roof Caved In

  1. I would for sure think it was out there. Your a fiction writer, would you write about that happening 3 times? Probably not, right? I’ve been renting all my life and I do not have any stories like that to tell. 🙂
    Diana xo

  2. I once lived in a little joint which was ‘under’ a garage apartment. Opening the door it would hit the toilet. Yes, I had to walk through the tiny bathroom to get to the ‘bedroom’ which contained a gas space heater with no ceramic–just naked flames. A naked light bulb hanging from the ceiling provided even more ambiance. I have actually written a post about this wonderful cozy little place.

    Loved your story, and yes, I believe ever’ word.

      • Ah but to the ancient Irish 3 was a sacred and very fortuitious number. Also multiples of 3…9 in particular, also 27…getting the picture? I hope its not 27 times lucky lol!!! At least your experiences have given you great material to write about…although I’m sure you would rather do without them!

  3. Troubles come in three’s, per chance?

    The problem with the garbage can, and it’s a legitimate temporary, repeat temporary, is that it is too big, few normal humans can move it when it’s full of water to empty it. Normal bucket are much better, although they do require more maintenance.

      • Good. It’s insane to defer that sort of maintenance, unless you just don’t have the money, of course. 🙂

      • Well, to be quite honest, I’ve also lived in three homes and worked in one office that had moldy building syndrome, so I don’t like to be around mold at all due to my allergies. (So it would have been a priority despite the cost.) But I didn’t choose to include those in any of my “stranger than fiction” posts because it rains so much here, it’s unfortunately not uncommon to have so much mold. 🙂

      • Yep. Mold is bad news. here we mostly see it after floods, in basements and in furnace ducting. It (especially the black kind) be a serious health hazard. In your climate I can see it being an almost constant concern. 🙂

      • It is. I was a paralegal for 14 years, and for 4 of those, I worked for an attorney that specialized in black mold and we had TONS of cases where people had gotten sick from their homes. It got especially bad after the hurricanes of 2006.

      • That’s one of the things we don’t often think of until we run into it. After the Platte flooded a few years ago, I saw several furnaces loaded with it, and all I was willing to do was recommend they get it remediated.

        Given who those clients were, I’ll bet they used bleach at most, and that’s not going to do the job. But I was not going to screw up my health doing something I was neither equipped for nor especially knowledgeable about. I do have limits, and sometimes I respect them 🙂

      • Yes, remediation is a difficult task. If it’s on the drywall, you really have to replace it as well as the insulation in between. AND you have to wear a mask and gloves (at minimum) while you work. Even then, you risk breathing in the spores. God for you for not attempting to tackle the job and risk your health. 🙂

      • One of the few times I’ve shown that much sense. 🙂

        But yes, it is difficult and expensive as well, to do it properly, and because of that few do, I’m afraid it was more expensive not to. But I guess that was their choice. 😐

      • Remediating mold is a lot LESS expensive than living with the consequences to one’s health. It’s too bad more people don’t know that. Plus homeowner’s insurance doesn’t always cover the costs once the mold actually eats the house alive so to speak.

  4. Rachel I am looking forward to reading your post both fully and properly tomorrow yet know already that I will ‘like’ it so I have! A preemptive ‘like’ – they are unusual things.

      • So now we call you Rachel and her technicolour ceiling; Lloyd-Webber and Time Rice turn it into a musical and you retire gracefully to one of the rather up market Troglodytes in the Loire Valley – perfect solution. In the alternative run for President and when in the Oval Office don’t look up!

      • A technicolor ceiling would be preferable to a missing or moldy ceiling. I would like to be President, but in the alternative, if I ever got to see the Oval Office, I’d be to busy taking photos to even notice the ceiling. 😉

  5. Wow. My mindset automatically went to my metaphysical beliefs for an underlying meaning. Seems to me that over time whatever is there is getting better, and it sounds like your next home will have a solid roof. Hope this wasn’t too Om-ie for you. 🙂

      • LOL … if those are mild, I need to read about the others. It sucks that these things happened to you (crappy people often take advantage of nice people nice as yourself), but I can’t help my curiosity. Please DO tell!

      • LOL! I have some more of these stories coming up, some which are like this, and some which are actually pretty funny I think. But I’m sure in time, I’ll be telling all my stories such as these, that are just unfreakin’ believable. LOL! 😀

  6. Your story about the bathroom being gone when you arrived home is amazing–I’m surprised they didn’t call you or leave a note to let you know why they removed it–but like you, I would definitely move immediately and never look back. I have lived in many apartments and unfortunately from what I can remember, I dealt mainly with bug infestations, such as cockroaches!

    • I think so, too. I have an idea the unit below was unoccupied, and all I can figure is the noisy from upstairs weren’t home (obviously). The really sucky part was the apartment complex tried to sue me for not fulfilling my lease! It ended up being nothing more than threatening letters and a blemish on my credit report, but they weren’t even willing to allow me to have a different unit while they repaired.

      • That’s horrible! I hope the apartment complex got new management or is no longer in business. But at least the good thing is you were able to resolve the matter 🙂

      • I think they’ve changed owners several times since then. I was barely 20 years old at the time and hadn’t found my voice yet. If something like that would have happened now, they would have to look out for me. LOL!

  7. Hmmm…I don’t think I would ‘believe’ it either. I would probably say, “Ugh, c’mon you’ve used that trick already!” lol. Anyway, the one characteristic that I have to deal with is stray cats. It’s like they’re everywhere!

    • LOL! I don’t blame you, I wouldn’t believe it either. As for the strays, I hate that. I mean I ADORE cats, but hate when there are so many homeless cats and they keep breeding. It’s unsafe for them and it’s bad for the environment. I’m glad there are more and more of those places that will trap, neuter and release them so they don’t keep multiplying anyway. 🙂

  8. If you write all three of these, Rachel, and you better put ‘Chicken Little’ in the title. I cannot believe your rental sky has fallen on you three times already. Damn.

    The first apartment I moved into in Syracuse was a basement one-bedroom. I wanted it because I was young and didn’t yet want to get rid of my extremely heavy waterbed. Nope, the bad thing had nothing to do with the very heavy watermatress, unless you count the heater breaking and it robbing me of my body temp until I bought a regular bed. No the problem was, one rainy day all of the four floors (eight apartments) worth of sewage made its way into my bathtub. Eeeeeeew. Landlord sent a plumber. I moved out shortly.

  9. I’m about to become a landlord for the first time and I can’t believe it. Do you have any idea the lengths that I’m going through to make this house a perfect rental.
    Rachel your story proves that the truth is stranger than fiction.

    • I wish you were my landlord, Ernesto! I hope you get good renters. There are a lot of bad landlords out there unfortunately because there are a lot of tenants that trash the place and skip out. Sadly, those such at that give the rest of us a bad name. Best wishes and God bless! 😀

  10. We’ve had a whole slew of problems with our house. The rafters are spaced too far apart due to the contractor being a cheapskate; so are the tiles on the kitchen floor. Our chimney was badly designed and had to be fixed (the whole piece of plywood it was sitting on rotted, and it was slowly sinking through the roof,) the roof leaks, etc. Oh, and the bathtub has several problems. It could fall through the floor into the garage if we splash out, the toilet in that room has the same problem and leaks, and the plug for the bathtub is broken, so it won’t drain any more. But I really shouldn’t complain–I went to babysit once for a family whose house was more like a dump. (I won’t say who, and fortunately there is nothing to link my account to erinkenobi2893! Yay for keeping work and fun separate!) Toys and other stuff all over the floor; the toilet was too low for me in the bathroom and looked as if it was going to fall through the floor, warped doors, a really mangy cat who gave me grief all evening (allergies,) the fact that the kids played Minecraft instead of running around outside with me and the dog (which is frankly rather disturbing to me)… I’m glad they said that teens didn’t work out for them as babysitters because it means that I don’t have to worry about being asked back. Oh, and the lady didn’t outline things clearly enough to make me comfortable with the evening. It was the most horrible and scary experience I think I have ever had at work. I can handle a house that’s filled with carbon monoxide and the alarms going off, kids pulling on my hair, crying kids, terrified kids trying to kill a poor innocent moth in the back seat of the car with my umbrella (!), but a grown up who has the TV going and doesn’t outline my duties? No. I’m sorry. Just no. I’m not going to work there again. I need someone who knows what they want me to do… in an odd way, I think having someone outlining what I’m going to have to do takes away most of the jitters.

    • Yikes! I too have found so many problems in houses because the contractors were cheap and took shortcuts. It amazes me that they pass inspection this way.

      As for your babysitting experience, I could go on about those as well, though thankfully not since my kids were born. Yours sounds awful! Best wishes! 😀

      • Yeah… I have no idea how they get away with it either. (I’ve always wanted to live in a well-maintained Victorian house… maybe because most Victorian houses are still structurally sound. 😛 )
        🙂 Mine isn’t quite as bad as Laura Ingalls’, with the school and staying with another family whose demeanor frightened her, but I’d call it a close runner-up. 😛

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